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No more subsidy: Senate passes N4.493tn 2015 budget

Five months after the executive submitted its spending proposals to it, the Senate on Tuesday passed a national budget of N4.493tn for the 2015 fiscal year, which is devoid of provisions for fuel subsidy.

There was however, a budget of N21bn for the funding of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).

The national budget, which was earlier passed by the House of Representatives last week, was N51bn higher than the N4.425tn submitted to both chambers of the National Assembly by the Federal Government.

The Chairman, Joint Senate Committee on Appropriation and Finance, Mohammed Maccido, confirmed that the executive did not make provision for fuel subsidy in the 2015 budget and that the National Assembly left it the way it was presented.

He said, “There was no provision in the budget for subsidy but I believe there should be provision for it especially since there was already a disagreement between the oil marketers and the Federal Government over subsidy payment.”

He added that the budget would be driven by $53 oil benchmark, an exchange rate of N190 to one US dollar; N2.2782m per barrel crude oil production per day; and deficit gross domestic product of -1.12 per cent.

Reacting to the development, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Senator Ahmad Lawan, said the incoming government was bound to review the 2015 fiscal budget because of various flaws.

“I believe that the incoming administration will very swiftly bring a request for a supplementary budget which will try to balance between the capital allocation, that will be very much required in Nigeria, and the recurrent.”

Also, Senator Olubumni Adetunbi said the incoming government would probably make changes “in form of supplementary budget in line with the policy of cutting the cost of governance because the budget is 20 per cent for capital while the rest is recurrent.”

Senator Ganiyu Solomon said implementation of the budget would pose a problem to the incoming administration.

A critical study of the budget also put fiscal deficit at N1.07tn, N953.6bn for debt service and N375.6bn as statutory transfers. Education takes the lion share of the budget with N392.3bn followed by N338.7bn for the military while N303.8bn was budgeted for police commands and formations

Also, N237bn was voted for the health sector, N153bn for the Ministry of Interior while the Ministry of Works had a meager sum of N25.1bn.

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